Now Portuguese Commonwealth Games under cloud

Sat, Nov 10 2012 17:09 IST | 2 Views | Add your comment
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Panaji, Nov 10
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

The Portuguese Commonwealth Games due in Goa a year from now seem to be going the way the preparations for the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games went - at least as far as controversy is concerned.

After years of stumbling and struggling to create adequate infrastructure for the sporting event of Portuguese-speaking nations, a ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator has now raised the banner of revolt against the Games.

Vishnu Wagh, a firebrand legislator, has said that it was "ridiculous" and "out of place" for Goa to "even participate, forget hosting the Games", because Goa was neither Portuguese-speaking nor a nation.

"The Lusofonia Games are for those nations who are Portuguese-speaking. Goa is not a nation. Neither is Goa Portuguese-speaking. So what is the basis of our state hosting the games?" Wagh asked.

The Lusofonia Games are being organised by the Goa government along with the Associacao dos Comites Olimpicos de Lingua Oficial Portuguesa (ACOLOP), a collective of officials from Portuguese-speaking nations, in charge of conducting the Games held every four years.

Apart from sports like football, athletics, judo, table tennis and swimming, the Games also feature events like sepak takraw, a cross-bred sport with elements of volleyball and football and futsal, an abridged, but swift-paced football variation.

Over a dozen countries, including Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Angola participate in the games.

Wagh said that the state was unnecessarily committing resources for the Games, especially at a time when the state economy was facing an economic downturn following the ban on iron ore mining.

"Let us create infrastructure where our boys can play. We do not need to spend these huge volumes of money for these games. It is a waste. I am going to raise the issue with my party. I am also willing to take the issue to the people, if need be," Wagh said.

Goa, a Portuguese colony from 1498 to 1961, won the bid for the games in 2009, when the state was ruled by a Congress-led coalition government. The bidding process in Lisbon was aggressively backed by Congress state president Subhash Shirodkar, who was then president of the Goa Olympic Association (GOA).

However, from 2009, promises made by the Goa government to the ACOLOP as far as creating infrastructure for hosting of the games were not honoured, leading the ACOLOP to even threaten that Goa might be dropped as the venue.

Added to that were controversies and scandals which dropped out of Goa's Lusofonia cupboard, with the opposition targeting then sports minister Manohar Azgaonkar for giving clearances to five-star hotels and other mega projects in the guise of creating sports infrastructure.

After the BJP stormed to power earlier this year, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and the new president of the Goa Olympic Association (GOA), however, laid out the red carpet for ACOLOP officials, promising them delivery of the infrastructure for the Games before November 2013.

"We can have modern stadiums. We have the time. In fact, we will strive to have everything in place three or four months before the start of the games in November," Parrikar said.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in)

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